My Response to Comments on Michael Moore, Possibly With Larger Implications and Wider Ranging Debate

Sarah responded to my comments on Michael Moore. I had linked articles and sites that I feel exposed Moore’s willful lies in “Bowling for Columbine.” One of those articles is here. Sarah’s comments can be seen on the Moore blog entry. I feel my comment has potential for larger debate that can be made more public. Here is what I had to say:

Sarah,

“It’s not a case about respect SoB.”
It is about respect. Whatever Moore’s opinions are, whatever he is trying to say, he is purposefully misleading viewers to get his point across. If he can’t get his point across without lies one must wonder why he believes it in the first place. I don’t know if you read the article, I assume you didn’t. Furthermore, it seems that since you agree with Moore’s views – and hold a generally English view of the United States buttressed by a politically committed state-run media and a moribund intelligensia (not that ours is any better)- it is inconsequential that he lied, as long as he was getting the message across. This isn’t about the message, it is about the methods. As I stated, “At some point we need to drop party politics and castigate immorality where it is due.”

However, it is all expected from the morally anointed left. The differential rectitude of the left – their “specialness” that gives them the power to override millions of peoples’ preferences and thousand of years of traditions –
keeps them spotless of criticism. One of the results of this view of the world, and their place in it, is the judging of outcomes and the ignoring of processes. The “just” outcome that brings moral anointedness is already known. The processes, social institutions, economic interactions need to be brought into line with this outcome through whatever means necessary. Seeing this as the pattern of the left, it is no wonder that Moore was willing to manipulate the facts, and produce blatant lies, in order to produce a result.

“Are you going to defend the NRA?”
Yes. I don’t own a gun but I will defend the right to own a gun and to form groups built around the activity. It is difficult to ignore that a central feature of intellectuals deriding the NRA is the snobby, nose-looking elitism that intellectuals engage in so proliferously. Intellectuals build their self-images on being able to call the vast majority of people “philistines.” Nothing quite so engenders this knee-jerk value-judgment than the desire to shoot guns. Clearly you must be an uncivilized brute who doesn’t go to the theater and has never read Don DeLillo. True, the condemnation is also rooted in the belief in the danger of guns. However for elitists who watched “Bowling for Columbine” Moore provided a forum to make fun of the “savage brutes” that compose the NRA. Of course, Moore’s liberal editing made the NRA come off as ridiculous and Moore’s elitist image of them clear.

“You don’t see the American government as just a little racist? – remember, it treats its own black people about as bad as it treats the brown people of the world ”
No. I see the Civil Rights act of 1964 as one of the biggest causes of the “black situation” in this country. That act was rooted in a desire to eleminate institutional racism but, as is so often the case, produced many opposite effects and, by nearly every meaningful statistic, started a downward spiral that still goes on today. I, however, am making assertions here that I have little desire to defend (if you take this as a sign of my lack of support or my fear of you, so be it) against someone who engages in intellectual activity after taking a hearty drink from the post-modern truth-blender smoothie maker. You see the entire world as ensconced in inexorable power relationships and racism, sexisim, classism, ageism…blahblahblah…exist whether or not there is evidence for them. In fact, if there is NO evidence, it is a reason to believe MORE because the “dominating narrative” has succeed so completely in subverting the dissenting voice. This type of position is the fodder of conspiracy theorists and UFO-nuts. “There is no evidence for X because evidence for X has been hidden, surpressed or completely obfuscated somehow. Therefore the lack of evidence for X is evidence for X.” Because I cannot argue against this, the argument really exists behind the curtains, in the orchestra pit where we’ve been periodically duking it out for sometime now. Therefore, lets move on…

“Moore makes some pretty obvious points”
Boy, this sure skirts debate and easily castigates opponents as “disregarding the obvious.”

“So what if Moore has lied, do you go to cinema to get your ‘facts’?”
Do I need to tell you the difference between a documentary and a work of fiction? Of course, this debate is pointless with your post-modern truths smoothie sitting next to you. Perhaps you don’t believe there is a difference between fiction and non-fiction, or perhaps that difference is only in stated intent. Either way, I suppose in one sense you don’t think there is a difference….anyway, moving on…I’ll meet you in the orchestra pit later…

“because you canÔø?t really take issue with 20,000+ deaths from guns a year”
Another great debating tactic meant to dissolve discussion and produce foregone conclusions. Here’s a good stat. Canada, the foil of America in the film, has a much higher per capita murder rate than Germany. Let’s talk about that difference….But anyway, do I think the homicide rate in the US is a problem? Yes. Do I think Moore’s film dealt well with the problem?…not even a little bit. The movie wasn’t a search for a conclusion, it was a conclusion already known with a movie made around it.

“I am interested to know why Moore has irritated you. Are you a gun freak? maybe you’re a Republican?”
Wow. Moore’s duplicity can only irratate me if I am a gun freak or *gasp* a Republican? Here is a great dichotomy to choose from. Either I am a gun freak who is a screwed up, bible-thumping ignorant rube who doesn’t enjoy Dadaist theater or Marcel Duchamp, or I am a Republican, who are just screwed up heartless, bible-thumping, haters of the poor, the blacks, the women, the elderly, the hispanics…..blahblahblah. Wow Sarah, you leave me with a difficult choice. However, it seems that heads you win tails I lose, huh? Well, I like guns…I think they’re pretty sweet although I don’t own one. Hardly a gun freak. Also, I am a Libertarian…that votes *gasp* Republican because I believe in American politics you should vote party over person. The Republican party, with numerous stands with which I disagree, is the FAR lesser of two evils – two major parties that do not coincide with my somewhat idiosyncratic political views. Likewise, the Libertarian party is equally misaligned with my views. However, I says much that I, a committed atheist, will vote for Republican candidates over Democrats. To assert it simply, they promote a FAR less dangerous vision of America – and the world in general.

This, however, is another argument. The issue here is why I must be maligned in order to take issue with Moore’s clearly underhanded tactics (again, if you haven’t read the article I urge you to). Your dichotomy was yet another way to skirt the matter of debate. You hold out two poisonous offerings; “gun freak” and “Republican” and ask for a choice. How about I point out that both the choices are poisoned and we can talk about why you want to kill me?

So there we go Sarah, why do you want to kill me?

P.S.
“what was inane about his “speech”? – seemed more like a few words to me, anyway.”
Ummmm…definition clarification: Inane: Without contents; empty; void of sense or intelligence; purposeless; pointless; characterless; useless.
I think that my previous comments demonstrate why I feel they are inane.

“You think Dubwa got into power fair and square? you think going to Iraq was fair and square?”
Again, large issues…not to be debated here and until all our cards on the table and you stop trying to poison me.

“Are you a Dubwa fan?”
Ummmm…difficult to answer the question. I have MANY criticisms of G.W. Bush. However, I am a Bush defender also. This is mainly due to the fact that the criticisms of Bush that proliferate coffee shops, intelligensia circles and much of the media (particularly the BBC) are some of the most vacuous inane tripe I have ever heard. Criticism of Bush has become predominently couched in the repitition of intellectual one-liners, dull Bill Maher-style “witticisms,” and the stern stating of rhetorical questions (i.e. “You think Dubwa got into power fair and square?”) which are not questions but inarguable statements. (Imagine the difference between a child coming up to you and asking, wide-eyed “Do you thing Bush got in to power fairly?” and a Sarah or a Sarahite asking you the same thing.) I believe trenchant criticisms can be leveled against Bush, but I do not hear them often from the left (occasionally). More than anything, I am the enemy of intellectual parrots and self-esteeming contrarians who demean Mr. Bush because it is fadish.

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2 Responses to My Response to Comments on Michael Moore, Possibly With Larger Implications and Wider Ranging Debate

  1. Jude says:

    Sir:

    I don’t know if you’re aware of exactly how pompous you sound by attempting to refute Miss Sarah’s points, but I felt I would bring the following to your attention.

    The purpose of discussing politics is not to make oneself appear to be better than the other party, nor to make it seem like you are cool and educated, while the other party is a boorish, fist-thumping lunatic. (“So there we go Sarah, why do you want to kill me?”)

    The extreme verbosity of your refutation does not make you sound educated – rather, it makes you sound like you wish you were educated.

    I just felt you should be made aware of the implications of your commentary.

  2. Trevor Burrus says:

    Pomposity? So be it. I find it fascinating that I am implicated in this post and Sarah is left, if only implicitly, in the right.

    My posts are meant to be clear, to say what I mean, to describe why I am saying it and to show why I disagree with what the other person has stated. If this creates a feeling of pomposity to some who may disagree with what I say and the strength and clarity with which I say it I do not apologize.

    “The purpose of discussing politics is not to make oneself appear to be better than the other party, nor to make it seem like you are cool and educated, while the other party is a boorish, fist-thumping lunatic. (ìSo there we go Sarah, why do you want to kill me?î)”
    I agree with your first clause, and I do not think I am morally superior to Sarah. However, for us opinion-holders, the intellectual denizens of this site who are more or less interested in facing off their opinions against others, I feel the onus on us is to state what we believe, why we believe it, and why we don’t believe the contrary position as clearly as possible. The intellectual superiority game is therefore played by all of us here (basically) all of the time. You are playing it now.

    As for making my opponent sound “like a boorish fist-thumping lunatic” I suggest you read some of Sarah’s past posts – which blatantly demonize opponents as opposed to the implicit pompous elitism with which you are labeling me. Are you priviliging straight insults over some evanescent ghost of implied pomposity? Furthermore, I attempted to point out the false dichotomy (“gun freak or republican?”) with which I was presented. I proceeded to use metaphorical language to elicit the image of the poisoning of options and asked Sarah why she “wanted to kill me” for provocative, metaphorical purposes.

    As for my verbosity…Since you seem to believe I am not educated (whatever you feel that means) and I merely masquerade erudition through a thesaurus at my side, I have little recourse to convince you of my intelligence. Furthermore, I am completely apathetic to how you feel about my intelligence.

    Questions are surely begged, however, at the location of this middle ground between gratuitous vocabulary use and simplistic diction where the “educated” exist. This, however, seems absurd. And since I do not think you believe this I must infer that the wrongness my opinions stated, in your mind, coupled with my “extreme verbosity” produces the conclusion of “intellectual pretender.” I see a, more or less, two premiss argument here for the conclusion that “I sound like I wish I were educated.” First, that my opinions stated were wrong. Second that I stated them with excessive vocabulary. I’ll grant the second premiss, for the sake of argument. I could tone down my vocabulary. It does, however, have a purpose – as you also seem to think so (“boorish”, “verbosity”). A discussion about why we use vocabulary and the tone it brings would be interesting. However, I would like to discuss the first premiss, that my stated opinions are wrong. Let’s talk about why I am wrong.

    But, do I wish I were educated? Constantly. It is one of my driving emotions.

    In closing, thanks for responding. I have always felt that I walk a fine line between clarity, strength of opinion and pomposity. You are not the first person to label me as such. However, after much introspection I realized that those calling me pompous generally were disagreeing with me and that disagreement was at the root of the attack. I feel you are doing the same thing. Perhaps, I am wrong and you agreed with everything I said just not with how I said it. However, since the post was a response to another post some items of my tone were carried over and responded to the tone of the original post. My posts try to center the debate on issues and supportable positions – as this post has. In a forum such as this, in which words are all we have to act on, I feel that centering the debate on issues rather than received emotions is very important. Therefore, I hope you will respond to my position and we can a have a fruitful and mutually beneficial discussion.

    Trevor Burrus

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